Author of NY Times Clinton marriage article acknowledged that amount of time Clintons spend together is "pretty similar" to that of other congressional families

››› ››› ROB MORLINO

Patrick Healy, the author of a front-page May 23 New York Times article purporting to examine the married life of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and former President Bill Clinton, acknowledged on CNN on May 31 that the time the Clintons spend together is "pretty similar" to other families that include a member of Congress.

On the May 31 edition of CNN's Paula Zahn Now, Patrick Healy, the author of a front-page May 23 New York Times article purporting to examine the married life of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and former President Bill Clinton, acknowledged that it was "a very fair point to make" when host Zahn wondered whether Healy's calculation of the number of days the Clinton's have recently spent together would be "really any different from members of Congress whose families stay at home in the home district and the -- the working member of Congress stays in Washington." Healy responded that the time the Clintons spend together is "pretty similar" to other families that include a member of Congress.

Healy's acknowledgment that the Clintons are apparently no different from other congressional couples in terms of time spent together would appear to undermine a basic premise of the May 23 article: that, as Healy wrote, "since leaving the White House, Bill and Hillary Clinton have built largely separate lives." He wrote then that this was "partly because of the demands of their distinct career paths and partly as a result of political calculations." We learn now that even Healy agrees that the amount of time the Clintons spend together is "pretty similar" to other couples in which one spouse serves in Congress, though he failed to address this point in his original report on the Clintons.

In his report on the Clintons, Healy catalogued the number of days the Clinton's have spent together over the past 17 months:

Since the start of 2005, the Clintons have been together about 14 days a month on average, according to aides who reviewed the couple's schedules. Sometimes it is a full day of relaxing at home in Chappaqua; sometimes it is meeting up late at night. At their busiest, they saw each other on a single day, Valentine's Day, in February 2005 -- a month when each was traveling a great deal. Last August, they saw each other at some point on 24 out of 31 days. Out of the last 73 weekends, they spent 51 together. The aides declined to provide the Clintons' private schedule.

Discussing the article with Healy, Zahn said: "You did some very interesting analysis of the time they spend together, the time they spend apart. But when you crunch those numbers, are those really any different from members of Congress whose families stay at home in the home district and the working member of Congress stays in Washington?" Healy replied, "Sure, it's pretty -- it's pretty similar. And that's a very fair point to make. The thing is, is that Hillary Clinton is not just one of 100 senators. She's a distinct political figure, a rock star, if you will, in the Democratic Party."

As documented by Media Matters for America, the 2,000-word article by Healy was based on the accounts of "some 50 people," "many" of whom "were granted anonymity to discuss a relationship for which the Clintons have long sought a zone of privacy." Healy also revived unsubstantiated rumors of an alleged affair between Bill Clinton and a Canadian politician, claiming that tabloid pictures last year of Clinton leaving the restaurant with Belinda Stronach in a group that included "roughly a dozen people" fueled concerns among prominent Democrats. Following its publication, numerous news outlets ran reports and aired discussions on the article.

Healy had also previously wondered in a 2004 report in The Boston Globe whether Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA), was "a bit kooky" and openly questioned "what kind of marriage the Kerrys have" while filing other erroneous stories on the Democratic nominee that fueled Republican attacks.

By contrast, Healy has let another prominent New Yorker and possible presidential contender, former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, escape similar personal probing in three recent stories.

From the May 31 edition of CNN's Paula Zahn Now:

ZAHN: And with me now is the author of that New York Times article about the Clintons' marriage, Patrick Healy. Good of you to join us, Patrick. So --

HEALY: Hi, Paula.

[...]

ZAHN: You did some very interesting analysis of the time they spend together, the time they spend apart. But when you crunch those numbers, are those really any different from members of Congress whose families stay at home in the home district and the -- the working member of Congress stays in Washington?

HEALY: Sure, it's pretty -- it's pretty similar. And that's a very fair point to make. The thing is, is that Hillary Clinton is not just one of 100 senators. She's a distinct political figure, a rock star, if you will, in the Democratic Party. She's the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, a lot of people say. And Bill Clinton isn't simply Teresa Heinz Kerry or Laura Bush or Tipper Gore or even Bob Dole, when Liddy Dole ran. He would be returning as an ex-president to the White House. So, their schedules, I think, really are distinctive. Their ambitions are incredibly distinctive. But, even more than that, Paula, what a lot of their friends said, and some of their advisers, is that there's a very conscious effort to manage how they appear in public together. You pointed out the Coretta Scott King moment, where she, to a lot of Democrats, looked diminished, whereas today if he's playing the helpful, the booster, giving the great sound bite to the media afterwards, that's great, but as long as he doesn't upstage her or crowd her presence too much.

Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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